‘Comedy of Tenors’ and ‘Nunsense’ Musical Shows Open on Jefferson Parish Stages | Events

After nearly 900 performances at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Anthony Laciura is a familiar face for opera lovers. Martin Scorsese’s “Boardwalk Empire” fans know him as Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson Butler Eddie Kessler. But alumni of Holy Cross School, Loyola and Tulane Universities can recognize him as a classmate.

As the pandemic closed the Broadway and Met stages, Laciura spent much of his time teaching and working through his foundation to develop and promote dramatic singers. But he accepted the offer of Dennis Assaf, classmate of Holy Cross and Loyola, co-founder and artistic director of the Jefferson Performing Arts Society, to return home and direct his next production.

“A comedy of tenors” opens on Friday April 9 at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center, with an adjusted seating chart for coronavirus restrictions. It’s one of two shows opening this weekend, as live shows return to local stages, with more live theater, comedy and burlesque throughout the New Brunswick region. Orleans. The musical “Nunsense” opens April 8 in Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts.

“A Comedy of Tenors” continues the story of Tito, the Italian opera singer in Tony Award winning Ken Ludwig’s “Lend Me a Tenor”. “Comedy of the Tenors” is a behind-the-scenes comedy driven by outrageous egos, infidelities and mistaken identities as Tito heads to Paris for a big concert. He doesn’t know that his daughter is dating another star at the concert, and there is a bell boy in the hotel who looks like Tito and who is also a talented singer.

Are operas really hotbeds of backstage drama? Laciura says no.

“Behind the scenes take on the complexion of the spectacle,” says Laciura. “When you focus on singing, it takes so much energy. There are no microphones (on stage).

While the show is about exaggerated opera stars, there are only a few strains of “La Traviata”. Laciura says he’s a longtime fan of the Marx Brothers and Carol Burnett, and the show dives into a slapstick.

Shows with a romantic plot and crazy action also show that the conditions are changing for what the theaters can produce. Working on shows during the coronavirus pandemic has complicated rehearsals, backstage and seating work as theaters try to protect everyone. In Rivertown, the entire cast, creative team and front of the house exceeded the two-week dates to be fully immunized against the coronavirus on April 2, director Gary Rucker said. But at the time he launched the series, no one working on production was still eligible for the shoot. The rehearsals of “Nunsense” and “Tenor Comedy” began with masks and an abundance of precautions.

Rivertown has presented productions for in-person audiences since early fall. It originally limited the number of seats to 50 people per show and stuck to cabaret-style productions with three or four performers spaced on stage. Now it admits about 100 people, which is still less than half of its capacity. Not all of his subscribers are set to return, Rucker says, but Rivertown has extended the Christmas show series and his recent youth production “Descendants: The Musical.”

Today, Rivertown is getting closer to one of its pillars: frenzied musicals. “Nunsense” revel in absurdity, as the Little Sisters of Hoboken, who had led a mission in a leper colony in France, lose all but five of their limbs after Sister Julia, Child of God, poisoned them with his food. Mother Mary Amnesia lost her memory when a crucifix fell on her head, and the sisters had colorful past lives outside the convent.

Although “Nunsense” was developed from a cabaret show, the musical debuted in 1985 and inspired five sequels and a few spinoffs. The show usually asks for updates. In the original, the Mother Superior blew up the monastery money in a VCR. This has been updated to a plasma TV and Rivertown, a Disney + membership.

There are also some references to the coronavirus, and Rucker says they made some adjustments. He abandons the moments when the nuns enter the public. At one point, Sister Mary Amnesia questions the audience and there are prizes. Here the winner will have to claim the prize, instead of a nun coming out of the stage for a transfer.

During the pandemic, the spectacle offered another benefit.

“We do ‘Nunsense’ because ‘Nunsense’ takes place on the set of ‘Greece’,” says Rucker. “So we’re going to do ‘Grease’ right after that. This is how we juggle things.

Just before Claire Givens and Jeremy Phipps started writing music together under the name People Museum, around 2015, the two each knew black …

There are always challenges in budgeting for productions and attracting ticket buyers. This balance required more ingenuity with a limited audience capacity. But Rivertown is moving forward.

“We just got the rights to ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’,” says Rucker. “I can take the ‘Grease’ set and redecorate it and make it the ‘Joseph’ set.”

This show will open in the summer, and Rucker is hoping Rivertown can resume producing the shows he originally scheduled for last year.

The two directors hope the shows can also help people cope with the pandemic.

“I think it’s the perfect time for something so fun and relaxing,” says Laciura. “You can just enjoy it and forget about the corona and the anxiety.”

“Comédie des tenors” will take place from April 8 to 11 and from April 16 to 18. Tickets are available on jpas.org. “Nunsense” will run from April 9-11 and April 15-18. Tickets are available on rivertowntheaters.com.

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